Dealing Death, Saving Lives: Forms of Otherness in Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Nizhalkkuthu/Shadow Kill

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This article will discuss Nizhalkkuthu/Shadow Kill (2002). Adoor Gopalakrishnan's first fulllength feature in seven years, was hailed by critics as one of his most significant accomplishments. In Nizhalkkuthu, the state is portrayed as a highly repressive and coercive mechanism that determines how people live and function. There's virtually no scope for subjective choices, for stepping outside the rigid codes and rituals that govern almost every aspect of human behavior. It's a feudal world that exists outside time and history, where people are trapped within a relentless cycle of events and identities that repeat themselves ad infinitum. In fact, the sense of inevitability is so pervasive that it's accepted without question as a fact of existence. Kaliyappan's identity as the Other is constituted by and exists within this paradigm. As a creation of the state, he must live exclusively on its terms.

Keywords: Gopalakrishnan; Nizhalkkuthu; hangman; otherness; outsiders; the cycle

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Colorado

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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